The award winning BroadForward converged signaling solution enables operators to combine and integrate multiple generations of core network functions to support a 4G-5G Hybrid Core. The productized solution provides operators with the ability to simultaneously invest in future proof technology while retaining and incorporating legacy network functions as part of its network transition strategy.
Converged signaling solution
The BroadForward converged signaling solution is designed to provide a single platform for all key signaling technologies such as SS7 (2G/3G), Diameter (4G), HTTP/2 (5G) and various other protocols. Operators use the BroadForward solution to deploy any combination of its on-board routing, interworking, security or storage functions, for integration and co-existence of 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, Fixed and Wi-Fi systems, and beyond. The system supports various core applications in one common software environment. This includes applications such as STP, DRA, DEA, SEPP, SCP and BSF, as well as common applications such as Firewall, Number Portability, EIR, Steering of Roaming, Subscriber Management, Reporting, Provisioning and more.
Transitioning to 5G and beyond
5G introduces big changes to Core networks. The 5G Core is fully virtualized, based on a Service-Based Architecture, using HTTP/2 instead of Diameter as signaling technology, and requiring a full set of new Network Functions.
To prevent operators from having to take this big step all at once, BroadForward offers a converged signaling solution that enables operators to have multiple generations of core network functions co-existing and working together at the same time. It ensures operators do not have to build and maintain separate silos for 4G and 5G, and don’t have to switch from 4G to 5G Core overnight. Existing 4G network components (and even legacy 2G/3G systems) can be retained and combined with new 5G core network functions. This is made possible by the unique routing and interworking technology of BroadForward.
The use of a common converged software architecture also enables operators to uniformly deploy all core network functions – even those supporting 2G and 3G – fully virtualized, containerized and cloud enabled. The underlying signaling design further ensures that each of the supported core network functions offer operators the exact same inherent flexibility and uniformity for deployment, configuration, management, provisioning and scaling. The platform is in use at over 70 service providers (MNOs, MVNEs, MVNOs, IPX, IoT) around the world, running combinations of core signaling functions for all mobile access technologies including 5G.
Whereas the life cycle of products designed for specific technologies and use cases are by nature limited, the development of BroadForward’s solution is open-ended and continuous. Next to support for 2G, 3G and 4G signaling technologies, it supports 5G and will also support 6G and beyond. Furthermore the solution is hardware-agnostic and support virtualization and cloud deployment (VMware, KVM, Amazon, Azure etc.) as well as containerized application deployment (Docker, Kubernetes, OpenShift).
By design, the BroadForward converged signaling solution provides unrivaled flexibility, cost and continuity advantages allowing operators to preserve and modernize legacy functions while implementing next generation technology. At the same time, it helps operators to move from static hardware based legacy systems to virtualized network functions – benefitting from BroadForward’s integral support for cloud deployment. Moreover, it reduces complexities by deploying uniform signaling management across networks and standardizes operational management, provisioning, reporting and more.
Rather than creating separate silos for 2G/3G, 4G and 5G Core, BroadForward offers operators the opportunity to define a step-change roadmap that suits their needs best:
• Hybrid Core enablement. Enables operators to opt for a managed and cost-efficient transition to 5G, allowing legacy and 5G functions to operate together within the same software environment.
• Life cycle extension. Enables existing, well-functioning legacy core network functions to continue to operate, also in 5G.
• Single license. Application of a network wide, nomadic license, providing both continuity and predictability in costs as licenses work across signaling technologies and functions.
• Common software deployment model. The software architecture of the converged platform enables operators to transition static 2G, 3G and 4G (hardware based) network functions to 5G (software based) cloud deployment models.
• Reduction of integration points. Centralized IT integration, signaling management, configuration, provisioning, subscriber management, reporting and control.
• Unified operations. The use of a common underlying platform enables operators to execute shared and uniform operations across legacy and 5G functions, allowing for a simplified organizational structure and major reduction of operational cost.
• Single customer view. The single engine platform provides a configurable, normalized view of all signaling traffic across all supported technologies and functions.
With this unique architecture, the BroadForward solution breaks with the tradition that operators have no other option than to acquire network elements that are designed to support a specific access technology and use case (‘point solutions’). Today – as operators deploy 5G – many networks will still have to operate multiple other access networks in parallel. Those costs weigh heavy, not in the least because support costs and dedicated hardware of standalone legacy network functions continues to increase, while new development on such platforms is often limited. The BroadForward converged software architecture provides the basis for constant new product development and innovation, providing a truly future-proof solution.
Enabling 4G-5G Hybrid Core
The GSMA awarded our solution to enable a Hybrid Core with the title of best Best Mobile & Network Software Breakthrough – Please view our presentation (18 mins) as presented during 5G World in London in 2021: